LAND REFORMS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA


By Paul Ndiho

Land reform is a hot topic across South Africa, as the country considers changing it’s constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation explicitly. The policy is designed to redistribute land to poor black people to tackle severe inequality 24 years after the end of apartheid.13634084495_e57567263b_z

The stakes are high as South Africans gear up for general elections in 2019. This will be the sixth election held since the end of the apartheid system. The African National Congress party, which has ruled since the end of apartheid in 1994, is facing an uphill battle to retain its dominance and is proposing constitutional changes to address land issues.

The fight over land reform is expected to be a fierce political battle but South African president Cyril Ramaphosa says the proposed land reform is a lawful process that seeks to correct the legacy of decades of white minority rule that stripped blacks of their land.

“This process that we have embarked on should become an orderly process. It should become a process that will be underpinned by the rule of law.”  The people of South Africa of all races are working together through Parliament and indeed some other formations and right platforms to find a solution to this historic challenge.”

Critics say this reform attempt threatens stability, many landowners and investors remain alarmed.  In August, U.S. president Donald Trump, weighed-in on the issue with a controversial tweet, in which he ordered U.S. officials to investigate the situation.

Julius Malema, head of Economic Freedom Fighters party warned that his supporters would increasingly seize unoccupied land to put pressure on the government to redistribute land to black people.

“At the center of that economic struggle is the expropriation of land without compensation. We said to our people- the most practical way to get the land is to occupy the unoccupied land to put pressure on the state.”

The EFF won just over eight percent in the 2016 local elections and hoped to make a breakthrough in the 2019 general election by tapping into frustration among millions of young and poor South Africans.

“No, there won’t be violence about land. In South Africa we are very peaceful people, we are very robust people, and we resolve complex matters through dialogue.”

Black South Africans comprise 80 percent of the population, but own just 4 percent of the country’s land, according to the government records. Though the ruling African National Congress is pledging to close that gap, progress has been slow.

Mmusi Maimane leader of Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s largest opposition party, while launching its campaign ahead of highly contested elections in 2019 told supporters in Johannesburg that the campaign will be about land reform.

“There is an injustice in our country, which lies at the heart of the land question. As the leader of the DA I want to commit this to you, we will ensure that more black South Africans can own land through secure private property rights all across South Africa.”

The South African government has also come under the scrutiny of groups such as AfriForum, a group that represents some white South Africans. The group’s CEO, Kallie Kriel, says they fear they could have their land taken from them in the midst of a racially charged national debate over land reform.

“The figures are being portrayed falsely as if white people own all the land, which as I have said is only 22 percent, and that is being abused to try and mobilize people and building up hatred towards the white community. And those things we need to oppose to say what the real facts are.”

The land debate in South Africa is sparking similar sentiments in neighboring Namibia. A report tabled at the national land conference last month said 995 000 people out of Namibia’s total population of 2.4 million live in informal settlements and white commercial farmers own 70 percent of the farmland in Namibia.

 

MELANIA TRUMP WRAP’S UP TOUR OF AFRICA


By Paul Ndiho

U.S First lady Melania Trump has wrapped up her first visit to Africa, with a goal of highlighting child welfare and promoting the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development on the continent. Her four-nation tour last week included stops in Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt.  first-lady-melania-trumps-visit-to-africa_30183309647_o-1200x720

Melania Trump’s first stop was last Tuesday in the West African nation of Ghana as she launched her first major solo international trip as U.S. first lady.

She landed in the capital of Accra and was welcomed Ghana’s first lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo with dancing and drumming and schoolchildren waving mini U.S. and Ghanaian flags.

Mrs. Trump visited a children’s hospital -intensive care unit before going to the presidential palace.

The next day, Mrs. Trump visited the infamous “Door of No Return” at a former slave-trade outpost and gazed over the crashing ocean waves that carried millions of Africans to lives of servitude.

“It’s a solemn reminder of a time in our history that should never be forgotten.”   “It’s very emotional,”

Earlier, Mrs. Trump visited Emintsimadze Palace where a regional tribe leader granted her permission to tour the palace.

The ceremony was held inside Obama Hall, a building on the palace grounds that was renamed after former U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2009 visit.

On her second leg of the trip Mrs. Trump flew to Malawi – upon her arrival at Kamuzu International Airport.

She experienced a different view of educating children as she visited Chipola Primary School in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. The school is among those that receive education assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development, including textbooks, but struggles with an enrollment of more than 8,500 students.

“I wanted to be here to see the successful programs that (the) the United States is providing the children and thank you for everything you’ve done.”

Critics say while the first lady highlighted USAID’s work in Africa, the administration of President Donald Trump has been trying to cut the agency’s funding by roughly 30 percent.

In Nairobi, Kenya, Melania Trump sashayed to the beat of African music as she was welcomed to an orphanage on Friday.

“Thank you for what you do and taking care of them,”    “Do you see the cameras?” she said to the boy before cradling another baby.”

On Friday,  she started her visit seeking to highlight conservation efforts by feeding baby elephants at Nairobi National Park and going on a safari there.

One baby elephant made a sudden move on her, and she momentarily lost her footing. But she fed formula to two of the elephants that are being raised at the park, patting one’s back and stroking the ear of another.

Ironically, earlier this year, President Trump quietly signed an executive order allowing Americans to import body parts of African elephants shot for sport from Zimbabwe and Zambia and encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs.

President Trump’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, are trophy hunters. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees the agency that lifted the ban, also is an avid hunter.

Smiling for the cameras in the shadow of the Egyptian pyramids, after a one-hour meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi – U.S. First Lady Melania Trump wrapped up her four-nation Africa tour in Egypt.

AFRICAN LEADERS AT UNGA VOW TO FIGHT CORRUPTION


By Paul Ndiho

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to appear at the bottom of Transparency International’s corruption perception index – which tracks corruption in 180 countries. This year, during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, several African leaders took the fight against corruption to the world body.

Corruption STA Package

Tackling corruption remains an uphill battle for most of Africa’s countries.  Transparency International, a leading global watchdog on corruption, says African nations are performing very poorly as a whole, even though some of the continent’s leaders are leading the fight against corruption.

For example, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has taken steps to fight corruption, but still, it remains rampant under his leadership. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Buhari called for greater cooperation between African countries to fight corruption on the continent — and to fight the illicit flow of funds across international boundaries.

“The fight against corruption, therefore, involves us all. It is in our collective interest to cooperate in tracking illicit financial flows, investigate and prosecute corrupt individuals and entities and repatriate such funds to their countries of origin.”

In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta is cracking the whip on corruption, but critics say he has been slow to pursue top government officials, until recently when he asked all civil servants, public procurement and accounting officers to undergo a lifestyle audit. Now, President Kenyatta has taken his fight to the United Nations, saying leadership at global institutions are the major contributors to corruption and impunity.

 “Governments and the international system must address the broadening deficits in fairness and inclusivity. International organizations, which continue to demand good governance and accountability, must lead by example. And agencies should do so by taking necessary measures to combat the unnecessary evil for national governments to succeed in combating corruption.”

Angolan President, Joao Lourenco, has taken on corruption more directly than any of the country’s previous administrations.  Most notably, with the arrest of, Jose Filomeno, the son of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos over the illegal transfer of 500 million dollars from state funds to a holding account in Britain. Jose Filomeno is being detained on allegations of money-laundering, embezzlement, and fraud.

High-level corruption scandals have also tainted the administration of Edgar Lungu of Zambia. The president fired a senior minister after the British government suspended aid payments to the country amid allegations of corruption of up to $4.7m (£3.5m) in aid payments that may have been embezzled.  Finland, Sweden, and Ireland have also suspended aid to Zambia, pending the outcome of the far-reaching investigation.

In Southern Africa, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new president of Zimbabwe, speaking to a diaspora audience in New York City vowed to fight corruption.

“We’re going to fight corruption period.”

In Liberia, containers full of newly minted currency worth more than $100 million have gone missing. The cash is said to have been shipped from Sweden late last year, in the midst of Liberia’s elections to choose a successor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The disappearance has caused public outrage in a nation that has long been dogged by corruption scandals.

 South Sudan remains at the bottom of the corruption perception index. Corrupt South Sudanese officials are allegedly taking illicit funds derived from the four-and-a-half-year civil war. A report released by the U.S. – based Enough Project last year indicated that several South Sudanese leaders had invested ill-gotten wealth in neighboring countries.

CASH CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE


 

By Paul Ndiho

Zimbabwean voters hope the first election without Robert Mugabe will bring change in a country where most people are unemployed, stranded with little or no money to feed their families.

Timothy Ngolobe is a University graduate, and unemployed.  He makes living hawking on the streets. Cash Crisis in Zimbabwe

“The situation is just bad. You can go to any bank; whether it’s the local banks or Standard Chartered, you’ll not find any cash. But if you go outside of the banks, just at the front door of any bank, you’ll find cash.”

Like many of his generation, he hopes that the cash crisis will be one of the first issues tackled by the newly elected government. He thinks that there is a conspiracy between the banks who have the cash and vendors who sell it through official channels.

 “This is a bank, and the ATM’s are dry. You can’t get any cash out of this ATM. So what people have done is to resort to selling money on the streets.

Let me see how easy it is to exchange money on the road. Cash transactions have significantly gone up because of Long lines of people waiting to withdraw money from their banks.

Richard Varince says it’s tough feeding his family. And wants a better Zimbabwe after the elections.

“We have got a serious crisis in Zimbabwe. We’re sleeping in queues; there is no cash. In some cases, you’re given 50-dollar Bond or 100-dollar bonds. So it’s very tough for my family and me to survive.”

Zimbabwe, in effect, has more than three parallel currencies – the rare US dollar, bond notes, and electronic transfers.

Francis Machimbe another Harare resident says higher interest rates are eating into people’s savings, especially for small transactions. And sometimes, the locals pay over 45% interest rates per transaction.

 “If you have got money in your bank account, you can transfer it into Eco Cash, but the guys at Eco Cash can charge you from 35% – 45% interest rate.”

But for Vendors, they argue, that Eco Cash is the reason many Zimbabweans can still pay their bills and buy groceries.

While mobile money transfer has been a success in many African countries, Zimbabwe was forced to adapt to Eco Cash due to the severe shortage of hard currency and banks running dry. For Tinyashana Toka, a vendor who lives in one of the high-density suburbs of Harare – the situation couldn’t be dire.

“At least if we could have unfettered access to our own currency, that hard currency here would be available to all vendors. We could be ordering our stuff at a low-cost selling them cheaply. But for the moment, we’re facing a lot of challenges and selling our wares. Hence, we’re forced to buy cash for survival, not for business.”

Financial analysts say for Zimbabwe to fix this currency crisis the authorities would need to restore confidence in the country’s Financial system. As supporters for both the opposition and ruling party head to the ballot, the question is whether the voters will punish the incumbent president for the ongoing cash crisis or give him the benefit of the doubt.

WORLD LEADERS MEET AND HONOR MANDELA’S LEGACY


 

BY Paul Ndiho

World Leaders are gathered in New York for the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.  A full session UNGA meeting was held Monday on global peace in honor of the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth also known as the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit. Honor Mandela

The highlight speaker during Tuesday’s session of the United Nations General Assembly session was U.S. President Donald Trump. He touted American economic growth, and said his administration had “accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”  His comments drew an immediate reaction from members of the audience. On Iran, Trump asked all nations to isolate Iran’s leadership as long as its aggression continues.

On Monday, at a UN peace summit honoring the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela, nations from around the world adopted a declaration recommitting to goals of building a peaceful, inclusive and fair society and “to revive the values for which Nelson Mandela stood” by emphasizing human dignity. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the statue would serve as a reminder of the values of Mandela.

“Today, we remember a man of great wisdom, quiet dignity and towering achievement, who worked tirelessly for peace and human dignity for people everywhere,”

A statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled at the United Nations on Monday. South Africa also gifted the U.N. with a life-sized bronze statue of Mandela — smiling, with arms raised. South African President Cyril Ramphosa said his country is “deeply humbled” to have the father of their democracy honored permanently at the United Nations.

“He would come to represent the hopes of millions of South Africans who dreamt of a life unshackled from a system that would limit their potential and stifle their possibilities based merely on the shade of their skin,”

Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, told the heads of state and U.N. officials to take on “ego-driven” decision-makers, political dogma, greed, and the arms industry.

“As leaders of this time, you have moral imperative and the ability to bring the death and destructions we witness on a daily basis to an end,”

The African Union declared 2014-2024 the Nelson Mandela Decade for Reconciliation in Africa. Mandela died five years ago. In 1994, he was elected South Africa’s first black president.

The UN also paid a tribute to the former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan who died on  August 18th at 80, after a short illness. Annan, a Ghanaian diplomat served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the United Nations were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

Other highlights for Africa include heads of state addressing the United Nations for the first time, including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed, Liberia’s George Weah, Sierra Leone’s Julius Maada Bio and Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa.

ZIMBABWE YOUTH VOTING FOR CHANGE


By Paul Ndiho

AS the battle for the 2018 presidential election narrows down to two front-runners, President Emmerson Mnangagwa  (Zanu PF), and the main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, MDC Alliance. Young people say their vote could bring about the desired change that the country needs. Zimbabwe Youth -1

A drive through downtown Harare ahead of Monday’s poll gives you just a glimpse what the future holds for Zimbabwe. Long lines of people waiting to withdraw money from their banks, a dire financial situation has arguably worsened under Mnangagwa, who has been in power less than a year and has not been able to address the chronic cash shortages that are choking businesses and the poor. The president’s supporters disagree and say he is the man for the job.

“President Mnangagwa has articulated his vision for this country. He has articulated since he took over the office after the new dispensation.  And we already

see the implementations of some of the promises that he’s made to the people, and we want to keep, and stay on that track.”

The youth vote could be crucial. Perhaps, it could shape the future of Zimbabwe as this election is being cast as a fight between the old guard of independence war hero’s vis-à-vis the changing demographics.

“I’ll vote for the President H.E comrade ED Munangagwa because, after the new dispensation, he has managed to open up the country. Jump started the economy, industries like farming, mining, and agriculture as well.”

Critics say this General election is like no other, Opposition Leader; Nelson Chamisa has galvanized his opposition party with simple speeches and promises of economic revival. The 40 year old Chamisa is Zimbabwe’s youngest ever-presidential candidate. Earlier this week at his party headquarters, he urged the youth and party members to come out in their numbers for Monday’s election.

Young voters say voters are fed up with the ruling party – which they say behaves with a sense of entitlement which has run down Zimbabwe and should make way for the young generation.

“We’re born in a tough economy and our hope is that on the 30th after we Vote things can change for the better for Zimbabwe because we are hoping for a better future for ourselves.”

Thousands of youths graduate from universities every year to join the ranks of unemployed. Many eke out a living hawking wares and airtime on the streets.

What kind of change would you and your colleagues like to see here in your country?

“We need to have leaders are accountable, need to have leaders who are Transparent. We need to have leaders who are focused and committed to social economic justice for all of us.”

While young voters in the past have been politically apathetic and not engaged in the voting process, they now realize that their voice matters and hence, their vote could bring about a trajectory change in Zimbabwe.

“He has been corrupt. I mean he has been in government for the Past thirty-eight years. So what new change does he want to bring when he has failed to bring change in the thirty-eight years.”

Analysts predict an election that is too close to call. And that if it’s judged free and fair, and credible by both the Zimbabwean people and the international community it could unlock massive foreign investment and restore the badly needed confidence in Zimbabwe.

 

CAPACITY BUILDING IN AFRICA


By Paul Ndiho

Human resources development has been identified as the single most important strategic capital for the African continent. Organizations like the African Capacity Building Foundation, the African Union’s specialized agency for capacity development, has set up formidable goals to achieve through advanced training and research in science and technology. Capacity Building

A World Bank survey says Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth is projected to reach 3.1 percent in 2018, and to average 3.6 percent in 2019 and 20. This moderate growth upswing nonetheless remains uneven, with considerable variation across countries. But could the investment in human resources be the answer?

The African University of Science and Technology, Nelson Mandela Research Institute for excellence on science and technology in Africa is leading the way with a particular focus on right areas, according to a top official at the African Capacity Building Foundation.

“Science, technology, engineering, and Mathematics are the areas Africa has to pay attention regarding building skills. But also deals with having some technical and vocational training capacities are needed. Whether it’s to promote agricultural development, or to really add value to the continent’s natural resources, or to be able to propel the kind of manufacturing jobs that are needed to create massive numbers of young people on the continent.”

Created in 2007, the African University of Science and Technology is grooming Africa’s top young scientists and engineers to make an impact in their respective fields.

“AUST is one of the few institutions created in Africa over the last twenty years to address the challenges for development in Africa.  Which is the adequacy of skills in science, engineering, and technology? And the number of engineers you have in your population is not a very widely used indicator of the potential of the country for innovation and development.”

The Africa capacity foundation supports some students at the Masters and Ph.D. levels, and the impact of that is exceptionally high particularly for young women in the field of science and technology. Since inception, more than 38 Ph.D. students and 26 young women have completed Masters Degrees in Science and Technology — and they’re now offering smart solutions to African problems as part of a human resource development program.  Joy Olayiwola studied for her Masters in Computer Science and is one of the beneficiaries of the program.

“In my spare time, I volunteer in STEM programs. STEM being science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This is a scheme that has been designed to empower the girl children in learning sciences.”

Musibau Francis, a Ph.D. student, has also benefited from the funding.

“I couldn’t have afforded tuition and the cost of schooling in a prestigious institution like this, so the ACBF Scholarship came, and I was offered to fund. The funding has greatly helped me to advance at this point in life. I have always loved to be an academic with active involvement in research and knowledge transfer, as well as mentoring young Africans.”

Analysts say Africa needs improved governance to succeed with its ambition for transformation, but it can only do this by narrowing the vast skills deficit it has in areas such as engineering, agricultural researchers and the number of scientists needed to tackle Africa’s infrastructure problems.

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